Foxit eSlick review

10 Dec 2009

A good reading experience is marred by a high price and unnecessary restrictions

Price when reviewed 
190
2

If the iRiver Story resides at the top of the consumer eBook reader tree, the Foxit eSlick sits firmly at the bottom of it. It’s an altogether less luxurious-feeling product – built from insubstantial black plastic and adorned with cheap-feeling buttons.

It’s hardly surprising given the manufacturer’s background. Foxit isn’t a hardware company, but a software developer famous principally for PDF reader and creation software. Rather than design and develop a reader from the ground-up, it has slapped its logo on the front of someone else’s. It’s effectively the same as the Bookeen Cybook Gen3.

And that means all the same specifications: a basic (though still very readable) 6in E Ink screen with four levels of grey (where the iRiver boasts eight and the Kindle 16); a very basic user interface; and plasticky controls that suit right-handed readers – the page-turn and main navigation control are situated in bottom-right corner of the device. There’s 512MB of internal storage, plus a 2GB SD card in the box, and the device will also play MP3 files.

Foxit eSlick Reader

The device’s big problem is file format support. Our review eSlick would read only TXT and PDF files. The latest firmware release adds ePub and eReader file support, but the update process is fiddly and unreliable. A batch of early devices, of which our review sample was one, simply won’t update.

Even if you get the update to work or manage to buy one with the latest firmware already on it, however, file format support is still pretty thin.

To get around this, Foxit wants you to use the bundled premium PDF creation, management and editing software (worth $70), to convert other files to PDF. The reader meanwhile allows you to “reflow” text in awkward PDFs so they fit the screen better.

However, there are problems with this approach. First, the PDF reflowing is hit and miss, with text often ending up ugly and difficult to read. Second, using software to convert files effectively ties you to one PC.

It isn’t all bad: the eSlick is light and pocketable, and its screen is readable. But its problems, and a high price, mean we can’t recommend it.

Details

Price ex VAT £165
Price inc VAT £190
Overall rating 2
Performance 3
Features & Design 2
Value for Money 2

Screen

Screen size 6.0in
Resolution 600 x 800
Colour screen no
Touchscreen no
eBook screen-refresh time 1.7 seconds

Battery

Battery Life 8,000 page turns
Integrated memory 2.5GB
Memory-card type SD

Dimensions

Dimensions 118 x 9.2 x 188mm (WDH)
Weight 180g

File format support

Plain text yes
HTML no
RTF no
PDF yes
EPUB no
BBeB no
AZW no
Microsoft Word no